Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 12th 2014 Contents B3
Thursday, June 12, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Beulah Parris may have more
direct experience with Port-of-
Spain s history than any other liv-
ing person. Parris was clerk at the
Port-of-Spain City Corporation for
four decades. And as the city cel-
ebrates its 100th anniversary this
month, she s celebrating her 90th
year of existence, almost exactly
ten years separate the corporation s
birth from Parris .
Parris is very much a product of
Port-of-Spain. Born on June 5, 1924,
she lived first on Park Street, then
Piccadilly Street before her family
moved to Belmont. She went to St
Rose s Girls, then Bishop Anstey
High School, both located in the
Reclining on an armchair in the
tiny living room of her home in
Carenage, she recalled a Port-of-
Spain in the early part of the last
century that was much different
from what it is now.
"It was a quieter place. And people
lived well together," she said. "The
neighbours and everybody were very
friendly. It had vagrants but nothing
like what it is now. We didn t have
so many," she said.
Parris relies on her younger broth-
er Clyde to occasionally carry her
into Port-of-Spain to see what it
"looks like now". She doesn t get
out of the car because a back prob-
lem limits her mobility.
"Everything has gone down," she
said of the city. "Woodford Square
has deteriorated so much.
There are no big stores like there
were long ago. We used to go win-
dow shopping on a Sunday after-
noon," she said.
"There are malls now, but they
are outside the city limits."
Although Port-of-Spain had been
capital of Trinidad since 1783, it
didn t become a city until 1914, when
the first City Council was elected.
The Port-of-Spain City Corporation
was established by the governor on
June 25 through Ordinance 24.
The corporation is celebrating its
anniversary with a number of events
throughout the month, including
the Mayor s Ball on Saturday at the
Hyatt and an interfaith service at
the Holy Trinity Cathedral on June
22.Parris started working at the cor-
poration after leaving school in 1942.
"I just wanted a job," she said.
"The City Council was paying more
money than government. So I opted
to go to the City Council to work."
With a five-year detour in the
1970s at another government agency,
Parris spent most of four decades
at the corporation, before retiring
in 1983. She worked her way up from
junior clerk to City Clerk, the first
woman to hold the position.
The City Clerk, now called the
CEO, heads the administrative, non-
elected arm of the corporation and
works with the elected City Council,
which is headed by the Mayor.
Parris worked with mayors Clyde
McCollin, George Neehall and
Stevenson Sarjeant. "They were all
nice," she said. She hasn t been
impressed with the mayors since.
Of Mayor Louis Lee Sing, who
demitted office last year, she said:
"I understand he was a miserable
one, and he never listened to what
the City Clerk had to say. He took
his own advice."
Current Mayor Raymond Tim
Kee, she s been told, is also not
receptive to advice from the top pub-
lic servant in the corporation.
"Listen to what the CEO has to
say because she s there longer than
you. And she would know better,"
Parris chided the mayor. Winifred
David has been CEO of the Port-
of-Spain Corporation since 2010.
Lee Sing and Tim Kee run their
own businesses and this may be the
source of the problem, Parris said.
"Coming from a private company
to the council is different," she said.
Asked what quality makes a good
mayor, she said: "He listens to what
you have to say, first and foremost."
Parris saw a number of trials dur-
ing her tenure, including the
destruction of City Hall by fire in
1948. A significant number of his-
torical documents were lost. The
corporation took up residence at the
Princes Building until 1961 while the
hall was rebuilt.
"Money was always the object,"
Parris said about why it took so long
to rebuild City Hall.
She received the Public Service
Medal of Merit Silver In 1984.
Despite not being impressed with
the some of the city s mayors, she
has praise for the government.
"They are doing good work in
spite of all the scandals. All the
streets are being paved and the
bridges are being made," she said.
As to what she d like for the city
in the future, she said: "I d like the
crime to subside," then added for-
lornly, "But, I don t know, every day
is the same thing."
Former city employee mourns
Beulah Parris, Port-of-Spain's first female City Clerk at her home in
Carenage on Monday. Parris who recently celebrated her 90th birthday said
Mayors need to listen if they're going to succeed. PHOTO: CLYDE LEWIS
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